Is It Okay to Lie to A Loved One With Dementia?

Is it ok to lie? Is it ok to lie to your spouse or parent? Most of the time we would automatically respond that it’s not ok to lie, especially to a spouse or parent.

But what if they recall information incorrectly? And when you try to correct them, they become defensive and agitated.

Or they ask a question and the real answer causes grief and sadness.

An individual diagnosed with a form of dementia is trying to make sense of the world around them. They are easily confused because they can’t remember what they were doing 5 minutes ago. Remembering names and people become difficult, as well as significant events in the world and their own life.

So what do you do when an individual diagnosed with dementia asks a question and the honest response creates a negative or unfavorable reaction? Do you lie?

It’s a decision every Caregiver will face at some point and there are different ways to manage the situation. If the question is frequent, is there something in the environment that continues to trigger it?

For example, do they see a photograph or possession that reminds them of a person or an event?

If so, a caregiver may want to remove items from the line of sight to reduce the risk of triggering questions; or if there’s a particular story they enjoy hearing or telling about that person or possession, see if you can immediately distract with the happier memory.

Ultimately, the goal is to find ways to help your Loved One with dementia remain calm and safe. Because that’s the goal, if not telling the truth keeps the person calm and safe, then kudos for resolving the difficult situation!

When you find an answer to a difficult question that works, be prepared to exhaust yourself using it until you have to find another one…because they may ask that question over and over and over. Managing their anxiety and confusion is non-stop.

That’s why we need our “Villages” to help us!


Angela Hammond

Written by Angela Hammond
Licensed Masters Social Worker & The Day Place/Owner